Professional athletes are the gladiators of the modern times. Their talents, celebrity lifestyles, and persona are unprecedented. However, these professionals endure the significant stress that is sometimes not easy for them to bear. This stress can be due to physical tear and wear on the body or constant scrutiny under which they perform. Unable to cope up with this stress, some athletes turn to drugs and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol have led many athletes to addiction.
It’s not surprising that there are countless athletes that are battling addiction in the contemporary society. Alcohol and drug addiction have also led to the premature end of the lives and careers of many professional athletes. However, some athletes have successfully battled and overcome addiction to continue their influential, prosperous lives. That’s because they admitted that they have an addiction problem and sought treatment. Addiction treatment, including drug rehabilitation, has been proven effective in enhancing the recovery process of athletes.
The Link between Addiction and Athletics
There are many reasons why athletes turn to drug abuse which eventually lead to addiction. Enhancing performance is one of the major reasons why athletes turn to drug abuse. Professional athletes face high-pressure situations when competing. Friends, colleagues, family and their countries pressure them to win trophies. As such, many athletes turn to drugs that enhance performance. Although these drugs improve physical capabilities and performance, they come with health risks.
Research indicates that substance abuse prevalence among sports communities creates a serious addiction risk among the already vulnerable individuals. Social normalization and acceptance of alcohol and drugs as well as role models doing little to curb it are other things that increase the vulnerability of athletes to drug abuse and subsequent addiction. Coaches and team managers do little to end alcohol and drug abuse among athletes. Fortunately, there are rehab facilities where athletes that are already abusing or addicted to drugs can get assistance.
These facilities offer addiction treatment that is aimed at helping the athletes recover from addiction and acquire the necessary skills to lead sober lives. This treatment is also focused on helping athletes in the management of issues like anxiety and depression. Several frameworks and concepts in the mental health and addiction treatment are combined with a sports-like setting to enhance recovery. Addiction treatment facilities have a friendly staff that inspires trust, safety, and confidence which facilitate the recovery process.
Addiction Treatment for Athletes
Addiction treatment for athletes is the same as that of other people. It is a process that starts the moment an athlete contacts a drug rehabilitation center. The athlete with the addiction problem undergoes a brief assessment via the phone. This is followed by complete assessment at the treatment facility.
Admission is the first step where the athlete is accepted at the facility. The representative of the center discusses the services available, payment methods, and how the athlete will be helped to recover during admission. The athlete is also told how fast addiction treatment can start depending on whether the facility has a waiting list or not.
Admission is followed by health assessment in most cases. This entails checking the status of the athlete’s health and substance abuse history. Health professionals at the drug rehabilitation center also find out if the athlete has underlying or co-existing health conditions.
The actual treatment for addiction happens with careful monitoring of professionals at the center. This involves medical detoxification that is followed by transition through multiple treatment steps. It’s important to note that the detoxification process tends to be intense for most athletes. However, drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers have medical professionals that enable athletes to complete their detox programs safely and successfully. They provide the support required by athletes because detoxification is an important part of the addiction recovery journey.
The length of the treatment depends on several factors including the severity of addiction, the type of addictive drug or substance, and the presence of co-occurring health disorders. For instance, opioid addiction may require an athlete to stay in an inpatient rehab center for a month and eventual years of medication-assisted treatment as an outpatient. On the other hand, an athlete with the minor addiction to alcohol may need outpatient treatment for a few months to recover.
Therapy and Counseling
Medications may help an athlete overcome the withdrawal symptoms of addiction. There are also medications that can help an athlete overcome the cravings which make recovery complicated. However, therapy and counseling play an equally important role. They teach the recovering athlete important coping skills. After undergoing treatment at a rehab center, the athlete goes back to the society where they are likely to face cravings and triggers. These can be the same triggers that compelled them to abuse drugs. As such, athletes need skills to help them avoid or overcome the temptations to abuse drugs again or relapse.
Counseling focuses on ensuring that athletes have long-term behavioral and coping strategies. It is provided in a group setting and on an individual basis. Treatment facilities provide evidence-based therapy that is aimed at enhancing sobriety. It also enables athletes to modify attitude while acquiring important life skills.
Major therapy types that are offered at the addiction treatment facilities include:
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Motivational interviewing therapy
There are also therapeutic activities that can enhance addiction recovery among athletes. These are used to complement addiction treatment for athletes. Thus, they do not address the underlying addiction causes directly. However, they enable the recovering athlete to see situations differently and cope with common stressors.
Such therapy types include:
- Holistic treatments
- Animal-assisted therapy
- Mindfulness and yoga
Holistic therapies that can be used to help athletes recover from addiction include art therapy, journaling, and acupuncture.
The Bottom Line
Everybody, including athletes, deserves a life without the obstruction that addiction roadblocks create. An athlete that is battling addiction can overcome this challenge and lead a sober life just like anybody else. Addiction treatment for athletes starts with admission of the problem and seeking help from one of the best drug and alcohol treatment centers. With the right help and support, and addiction treatment, addicted athletes can return to their profession and continue living their celebrity life.
About the Author
Thanush Poulsen is a Danish healthy lifestyle blogger who is deeply concerned about the problem of addiction. Investigating this problem, Thanush tries to find more effective ways of addiction treatment by adopting practices used all over the world.